Although some courses can be very general in their nature
, most are focused on a particular aspect of education or training. The main difference between a formal educational course and a workshop does not relate to the subject matter but the style of educational delivery. Indeed, some workshops will be run within the context of a wider course to break the learning up or to offer new perspectives among students to come to the fore. As such, workshops differ from courses because they will allow students more freedom of expression than they might otherwise enjoy. Where students attend tutorials, as happens in many higher education courses, the small group discussions that might ensue between a few students and their teacher to discuss submitted work together can be seen as small workshops in effect.
Outside of purely academic circles, workshops tend to provide people with the chance to try things out without being criticised. This could be a new idea, a skill or the chance to interact with like-minded people, among other things. Given that workshops are more social than other types of education - especially distance learning courses, for example – they tend to be popular for creating a sense of camaraderie or even community among participants. This is the case whether a qualification might be obtained at the end of the workshop or not.